Okefenokee facts for kids
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|Area||438,000 acres (1,770 km2)|
The Okefenokee is a swamp, a National Wildlife Refuge and a U.S. wilderness area. It is shallow, 438,000 acre (1,770 km²), peat-filled wetland straddling the Georgia–Florida border in the United States.
The Okefenokee is the largest "blackwater" swamp in North America. The term Okefenokee in Native American is "land of trembling earth". The swamp was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1974. The Okefenokee Swamp is considered to be one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia.
The swamp was formed over the past 6,500 years by the build-up of peat in a shallow basin on the edge of an ancient Atlantic coastal terrace, the geological relic of a Pleistocene estuary. The swamp is bordered by Trail Ridge, a strip of higher land believed to have formed as coastal dunes or an offshore barrier island. The Suwanee River drains at least 90% of the swamp's watershed southwest towards the Gulf of Mexico.
Longtime residents of the Okefenokee Swamp, "Swampers", are mostly of English ancestry. Due to their isolation, the Swampers used Elizabethan phrases and syntax well into the twentieth century. The Suwanee Canal was dug across the swamp in the late nineteenth century in a failed attempt to drain the Okefenokee. After the Suwanee Canal Company's bankruptcy, most of the swamp was bought by the Hebard family of Philadelphia, who logged cypress from 1909 to 1927. Several other logging companies ran railroad lines into the swamp until 1942; some remains are visible across swamp waterways. Most of the Okefenokee Swamp is included in the 403,000 acre (1630 km²) Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.
A wildfire begun by a lightning strike near the center of the Refuge on May 5, 2007 eventually merged with another wildfire which began near Waycross, Georgia, on April 16 when a tree fell on a power line. By May 31, more than 600,000 acres (2,400 km2), or more than 935 square miles, had burned in the region.
The Okefenokee Swamp Alliance is a conservation group that works for the continued preservation of the swamp.
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